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Army, Navy, Air Force dental commands band together during war training exercise

August 15, 2016

By Jennifer Garvin

War games: Col. Peter M. Tan, commander of the 185th DCAS, center, during the April 17-29 training exercise at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Washington. At right is Col. Christensen S. Hsu, commander of the 673rd DCAS. On the left is Brig. Gen. James H. Mason, deputy commanding general of the 807th MDSC. Cols. Tan and Hsu are oral and maxillofacial surgeons.
Tacoma, Wash. — Dentists in combat zones often have duties that go way beyond fixing teeth.

For two weeks in April, Col. Peter M. Tan, Army Reserve Individual Mobilization Augmentee Dental Corps Chief, led troops from the 185th Dental Company (Area Support) from Garden Grove and Vallejo, California, through a military simulation "war game" training exercise.

During the exercise — called Operation T-FIT for Total Force Integration — the troops were trained how to survive in hostile environments and felt firsthand the physical strength required to execute their duties.

The participants were all officers and non-commissioned/enlisted soldiers from active and reserve dental commands from the Army, Navy and Air Force. During the event, they created command sites, clinics and barracks and learned that before dental care could even be approached, they first needed to know the basics. This included simple things such as how to connect a generator or how to assess field sanitation functions. They also learned medical triage and practiced fallen soldier evacuation exercises and underwent a simulated enemy attack.  

Col. Tan commanded the exercise with Col. Christensen S. Hsu of the 673rd Dental Company (Area Support) at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Washington. Initial preparation was organized and directed by Col. Daniel Hash and Lt. Col. Alexander Farr.

"I was very proud of our soldiers, sailors and airmen that came together as Task Force Venom and to have served as their commander. 'Fit to Bite, Fit to Fight!' " said Col. Tan, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.